Gosport Borough’s play-off horse looks to have bolted after dull draw with Salisbury

Theo Lewis, right, went closest for Gosport in a dull 0-0 home draw with Salisbury. Picture: Duncan ShepherdTheo Lewis, right, went closest for Gosport in a dull 0-0 home draw with Salisbury. Picture: Duncan Shepherd
Theo Lewis, right, went closest for Gosport in a dull 0-0 home draw with Salisbury. Picture: Duncan Shepherd | JPIMedia
Gosport Borough’s outside chance of reaching the Southern Premier League South play-offs were further dented tonight.

Prior to the home clash with Steve Claridge’s Salisbury, Borough boss Lee Molyneaux admitted he saw the game as a chance to ‘get back on the horse’ after a 3-0 weekend loss at title-chasing Chesham.

But Gosport rarely looked like scoring in a 0-0 draw severely lacking in entertainment to warm up a Privett Park crowd subjected to freezing cold and rainy conditions.

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The result leaves Borough seven points adrift of fifth-placed Hayes & Yeading, having played a game more. But Salisbury are just one of a handful of clubs who have at least three games in hand on Gosport and are outside the play-off zone.

In terms of points up for grabs, obviously Borough are not out of the picture just yet. In reality, though, their play-off horse has almost certainly bolted.

Gosport only have 10 games left to play, are the lowest scorers of any team in the top 10 by some distance, and have only won two more games than they have lost.

Tonight, they hardly threatened Salisbury keeper Marcus Beauchamp.

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In the first half the hosts failed to produce a single decent effort on goal - on or off target - and Beauchamp didn’t have much more to do in the second 45 minutes.

At the back, Gosport have been resolute all season - they have the second best defensive record in the division behind Truro.

Salisbury gave them a few scares in the first half, but faded as an attacking force in the second.

In truth, this game had 0-0 written all over it from midway through the first half. Neither side deserved to win, and neither deserved to lose. A classic ‘honours even’ encounter, though it was never a classic in terms of excitement.

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Gosport keeper Kingsley Latham - on loan from Southampton - was the busier of the two shot-stoppers.

After 16 minutes he dived full length to beat out a low free-kick from Lewis Benson, and shortly after turned away a deflected effort from winger Shaquille Hippolyte-Patrick.

Following the break, and after Benson had sent another 25-yard free-kick whistling just wide, Latham produced a fine close range save from defender Nathaniel Oseni.

At the other end, defender Sam Roberts went closest for the hosts with a near post header just over from a Theo Lewis corner.

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Gosport lost right-back Dan Strugnell with injury midway through the second half, and he was replaced by recent signing Dan Alessi, an Australian under-20 international.

Lewis was presented with Borough’s best chance of the night 15 minutes from time. But after a long free-kick found him unmarked at the far post within the six-yard box, he could only guide a header straight at Beauchamp.

Gosport have now scored just 34 goals in 32 league games, and strikers Matt Paterson and Rudi Plummer endured a frustrating evening. Not only did they fail to gel as a pairing, neither of them created much in the way of even half-chances.

Salisbury only really threatened via Benson set-pieces in the second period, and he lined up another free-kick from the edge of the box in time added on. But, summing up the evening’s entertainment in general, he curled his effort well over the bar.